Thursday, 24 March 2011

Oilers Singing The Blues

I'm not sure how Tom Renney feels after tonight's game, but I'm pretty sure that I would be livid if my team came out and absolutely rolled over against another team that is nowhere close to making the playoffs. It's one thing to get soundly trounced by a division- or conference-leading team when you're at the bottom of the NHL standings, but the Oilers seemingly mailed it in long before they took the ice against the Blues in St. Louis tonight. The stunning lack of offence from the Oilers doesn't really have an explanation, but I'm going to say that Renney will be demanding a lot more from his team in their next game.

To give you an idea of how bad this game was for Edmonton, consider these facts:

  • Edmonton tied a season-low with 12 shots in the game.
  • Edmonton was shut out by St. Louis and Jaroslav Halak.
  • Edmonton didn't record a shot in 28:34 between the second and third periods.
  • Edmonton didn't register a shot in the third period until only 1:08 remained.
  • The game was a scoreless draw until 18:28 of the second period.
The Oilers weren't a very talkative group after this performance, but a few players offered thoughts.

"It's frustrating, obviously," Oilers winger Jordan Eberle said to The Associated Press. "We've got some guys out that help us with offence but collectively as a group, we should be able to put the puck in the net. I think it comes down to getting the puck to the net first off and getting second opportunities."

Not to be entirely sarcastic, but getting shots and rebounds probably will result in a few goals, Mr. Eberle. The issue isn't rebounds. It was the twelve shots that your team fired at Halak over sixty minutes!

I'll cut the Oilers some slack as they are missing a lot of firepower right now, but not a lot of slack. Taylor Hall, Ales Hemsky, Sam Gagner, Shawn Horcoff, and Ryan Whitney are all sitting out with injuries, but there should be more than enough players who can put the puck on net. Whether it goes in or not is a different question, but finding shots on net should not be a problem for a professional hockey team.

"It seems like we threw a lot of pucks at their net, I don't know what the end totals for shots blocked, but it seemed like they were in the way of everything," Ryan Jones told Robert Tychkowski of the Edmonton Sun. "Nothing was getting on net... but 12 shots is a little bit inexcusable. We have to find a way to get rubber and guys to the net."

I'd say Mr. Jones is bang-on in his assessment: find a way to get pucks to the net. It seems like such a simple concept, but some teams really do pull out all the stops in preventing their opposition from firing pucks at the goaltender. The Blues, barely hanging onto a .500 record, are not one of those teams normally, meaning the Oilers have to be better.

While the Oilers appear to be the consensus pick for the first overall selection in this year's NHL Entry Draft, there are still games to be played. Pride should come into play for the Oilers. And hopefully it will be sooner than later so we don't see any additional games like we saw tonight.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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